What Is the Worst Way to Dispose of Extra Budget Money in Jackson County?
The Kansas City Star has an article on the age-old question of what to do with leftover budget money. I guess it’s not an age-old question; it really began with the evolution of democracy around 1776. Before that, the answer was always, "Give it to the King." But anyway, there is some leftover money in the budgets of the Jackson County Council and Election Board, and considering all the things they could do with the money, they have shockingly chosen the absolute worst: Give it to the hacks.
This is really atrocious. Let’s check out the things that could be done with extra money: 1) Return it to the county treasury for next year; 2) quickly pass legislation transferring it to a pressing need; 3) lower taxes; 4) use the public’s money to benefit your cronies. The Jackson County Council chose number four:
Tarwater and other legislators said they were giving bonuses because they had money left in their budgets and their aides were doing good jobs. Tarwater will give $4,000 by year’s end to his aide.
I used to be an aide at the Saint Louis County Council, so I had basically the same job. Never in a million years would the council have just given leftover money to the aides as a bonus. (For the record, the position of council aide in St. Louis and I am sure this is true in Jackson Co., too is a very good job for a number of reasons.)
The Jackson County Election Board is doing the same awful thing:
Tammy Brown, chairwoman of the Jackson County Election Board, said she would have enough money left in her 2007 budget to grant $78,000 in bonuses by year’s end to the 34 board employees. Rizzo, chairman of the legislature’s budget committee, said election employees do an exceptional job and he would support the bonuses.
2007 was not an election year, so I really doubt the people at the election board worked all that hard certainly no harder than they are supposed to work as part of their job.
I have written before that Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders is becoming one of my favorite elected officials. While the council budget is outside of his control, at least we get this in the article:
The Sanders administration will not support fund transfers for pay bonuses, said Shelley Temple-Kneuvean, deputy chief administrative officer.
I should also say, good for the three councilmember who are not participating in the bonus scheme. Which is exactly what it is: a scheme to reward loyal supporters with public money. Just horrible.